FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.—Kirby Smart is in no hurry to leave Alabama.
Every year, the Crimson Tide’s defensive coordinator seems to appear at the top of most head coach vacancy wish lists. After the SEC Championship game, Smart’s name was linked to openings at Arkansas, Auburn and Tennessee. He may or may not have been offered the AU job, depends on who you ask.
Friday morning, Smart, who is not available to the media during the regular season, was asked several questions about his career future. He quashed the notion that he was putting feelers out, saying that his focus and emphasis since the Georgia game has solely been on Notre Dame.
“That’s all I can think about and all I want to worry about,” he said. “Ultimately my goal in my career is to be a head coach. Where that is, I have no idea. It’s not like I wake up every day trying to leave Alabama. I have the best non-head coaching job in the country. Period.”
Smart, the 2009 Broyles Award winner and this year’s AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year recipient, is in his sixth year coaching at Alabama. He collects an annual salary of $950,000 and is known as one of the best recruiters in the Southeast. The Crimson Tide’s recruiting classes have ranked in Scout’s Top 10 over the past five years.
“I forget how old I am sometimes, 36, 37, I think I just turned 37. I am so worried about Notre Dame, I don’t know my age,” he said. “I don’t worry about where I’m going to be in three years or 10 years. I think if you win, that takes care of itself and I’m not in such a hurry to run off. If I was 47, I might feel differently. But the most important thing to me right now is winning championships and developing young men into better players and better people.”
Smart, who first hopped on Nick Saban’s staff in 2004 at LSU and then after a brief stint with his alma mater Georgia joined his former boss with the Miami Dolphins, said the Alabama head coach has been “extremely supportive” of his goals and has told him several times that he’s happy when opportunities come up for the defensive coordinator.
Smart interviewed for the Auburn job last month and was asked if he received an offer. He said the interview process went great and that he respects the “University of Auburn” (it’s Auburn University), but would keep everything discussed “between us and them.”
Back in August when Smart was made available to reporters before a scrimmage, he said one of the reasons he’s enjoyed staying put at Alabama is that he’s been able to see the kids he recruits develop into men and then send them off to the NFL.
But those players, no matter how close they are to him, say they won’t hold it against Smart if he leaves for another opportunity.
“As a player, we know that anytime a coach is doing a great job that he is going to get an opportunity to coach at other places,” said cornerback Dee Milliner, who’s father James played for Smart’s father Sonny at Holtville High School back in the day. “You can’t worry about it.”
So what ideal situation would have to present itself for Smart to leave Tuscaloosa?
“Well, I’m like Coach Saban,” he said. “I don’t get into hypotheticals.”
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